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Taking a stand on the Golden Knights’ party deck - February 14th, 2018

 

Just before the puck was dropped for Tuesday’s Golden Knights game against the Chicago Blackhawks, a familiar face with a haircut resembling the Bichon Frise that won Best of Show at Westminster was spotted on the mezzanine party deck at T-Mobile Arena.

Carrot Top said he was there to “ring the bell,” i.e. wind the siren, with the Knight Line drummers and cheerleaders during the pregame ceremony.

All other hands on the party deck were there to stand and socialize and feast on all-inclusive beer and hot dogs. The ones with their bellies pressed up to the counters even watched some hockey.

The party deck is one of the standing room-only options at Knights games. It costs around $150 after the various service charges, but one gets all the beer and hot dogs one can drink and eat. Plus popcorn, cookies and other goodies. And if you arrive early and stake out a spot along the counters, the view of the hockey game is spectacular.

I am told the Hyde Lounge in the nosebleed section, another place where one can stand and watch pro hockey at a reasonable price, offers only an obstructed view of the ice. This was more what I expected.

Having grown up in the shadow of old Chicago Stadium when Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita still were skating with the Blackhawks, about the only seats to be had on game night were behind a post in the claustrophobic mezzanine. You couldn’t see the scoreboard, and you had to crane your neck to see around the post. The next day you went to a chiropractor.

Room and a view

At the T-Mobile party deck, the sightlines are almost as good as Marc-Andre Fleury’s, who started in goal for the Knights. There is also plenty of room to spread out and rag the puck.

“The view is great like anywhere in the arena,” said Will Seiber of Las Vegas, a cargo pilot who was wearing a Knights jersey with lapel pins on front, one of which appeared to be a winning poker hand. He was standing alongside another guy wearing a Knights jersey, No. 57 with Vegas Strong on the nameplate.

“I’m usually the hungrier guy,” said Zack Mueller, a bellman at the MGM Grand. “So getting standing room only with as many hot dogs (as I can eat) is a plus. I’m at three at the end of first period.”

Standing room options, added before the start of the season when the demand for tickets exceeded the allotment, have proven to be a popular option with Knights fans, and with just as many fans from the visiting sides. The party deck is split into east and west sections, separated by the Knights’ smoke-spewing castle. Fans from one side of the deck are free to cross the moat and mingle with those on the other.

One might think the Knight Line’s incessant drumming would induce a migraine headache after a couple of periods, but it really doesn’t.

Free beer for all

The east party deck on Tuesday was mostly occupied by Blackhawks supporters wearing Chicago hockey sweaters of various hues: home red, visiting white, alternate black, St. Patrick’s Day green. Chris Reyes was wearing home red, with Duncan Keith’s name and number on back and a Stanley Cup champions patch on front. He was drinking all-inclusive beer with a bunch of pals from Chicago.

“We made the original plan to come out here for the game but it was kind of tough to get tickets,” said the native South Sider who was sporting a bushy playoff beard that he probably won’t be needing, given the Hawks are in last place. “We have a big group of about 20 guys, so one of us made the call and got us this package with the all-inclusive beer. That kind of sealed the deal for me.

“The hot dogs are good, too.”

When we spoke after the first period, Reyes said he had eaten only one hot dog, but was on his sixth all-inclusive Stella Artois in the cylindrical can. His buddies from Chi-Town were right behind him. They were on a Belgian Pilsner power play.

If the game had gone into overtime, there was at least a 50-50 chance the Knights were going to run out of all-inclusive beer on the party deck.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.